International Background Checks Buyer Beware
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ince the day in 1995 when I asked the representative from a large
international security firm about criminal records in Italy and found out that
instead of providing what we consider REAL criminal history records, I found out
that they were selling MEDIA look-ups and calling it a criminal records check I
have been doing international background checks.
SURPRISING FACT # 1. Many companies sell media look-ups as a criminal history
report. I know this sounds insane, but I'm not kidding. The crime has to make it
into the newspaper or they have nothing to report. And what about a person's
trial results? That has to make it into the newspaper too for you to get a
disposition. Unfortunately that exact kind of thing is still very common today.
These companies that sell these reports always have a made up name for that kind
of service to make it sound like you are really buying something useful. They
usually package it with a check of the International Terrorist Watch List and
the OFAC watch list, both of which you can do for free in minutes.
Despite what you may have heard, or thought you knew, international criminal
checks are still very much a crap shoot. In some countries they are inexpensive,
contain what we Americans know as both misdemeanor and felony crimes - arrests
and convictions, are timely and accurate, such as Australia. Other countries
just don't consider criminal records to be public information, therefore
accessible by the public, like France.
SURPRISING FACT # 2. Many countries don't make their criminal records
available to anyone. France doesn't think that anyone has the right to know if
their citizens and residents are criminals. Don't believe me? Call the French
Embassy in Washington. That's what I did.
The internet is full of companies that say that they can get criminal history
records from many countries that I know for a fact don't provide criminal
records to anyone. In Great Britain you can get what is called a Clearance
Certificate from Scotland Yard. It tells you that the person has, or doesn't
have a criminal record, but it doesn't tell you what the criminal record is!
SURPRISING FACT # 3. Many countries criminal history reports are not worth
the paper they are written on. One good example of this is Mexico. As in many
third world countries their record keeping system is like it was here before
computers. They couldn't find the records if they wanted to. India has
antiquated records keeping, but they at least make an effort to help.
Another example is China, but for a different reason. With everything
controlled by the state it make sense that you will get what the state wants you
to get. If you were hiring a software engineer from China for example, and you
want to assure yourself that he/she is not a commie spy, good luck. You are
going to get just what they want you to see.
I once called the Egyptian Embassy in Washington and asked how to get
official criminal records. The man on the other end of the phone told me to send
him $200 and he would send me the records. I said that I wanted to know the
normal procedure for obtaining records so that I could do it now and in the
future. He said, "OK, send me $150 and I get you the records." I quickly
realized that this conversation was going nowhere. Since talking to him didn't
work I called the US Embassy in Cairo and asked them how to get the records.
SURPRISING FACT # 4. In many countries the only way to get a REAL criminal
history report is to have the "applicant" get it himself or herself. The
Philippines is a good example of this. But beware there are vendors in Manila
that make fake documents for employment purposes. Always get the original
document, not a copy, and verify it with the person who signed it.
In some countries an "applicant" can only get the criminal history report if
he/she is applying for a visa to work in the US. Since most countries want their
workers to work in the US they supply them with the documentation. Japan and
Singapore are two examples.
CANADA: We can get records from Canada. In fact we can get what is the
equivalent of our FBI records, but it requires fingerprints and can take 90+
days. I always ask my clients, "If you would like me to order the records, your
"applicant" has to get fingerprinted, send the fingerprint card to me in
California whereupon I mail it to the RCMP in Ottawa, wait 90 days get it back
and I charge you $100, or would you rather have it today for free?" How, you may
ask? Answer: Have the applicant go get the record himself. Every police station,
be it city, provincial or RCMP can process your records request while they wait.
Again, ask to see the original document and you can reimburse the applicant for
the report if you like.
NOTE: If a Canadian or person living in Canada has a criminal record, one of
two things usually happens. Either he/she will make an excuse as to why they
can't get the record from the police, or you will never see them again. They are
not going to bother getting a record if they know that you thus will not hire
them. Oh, and if you want me to order the records for you from Ottawa, the
applicant still has to go to the police station to get fingerprinted, so he
might as well get the record while he is there.
I could go on and on, but the bottom line is: READ THE FINE PRINT. Do not buy
from a service that will not tell you the source of the records. Ask how current
the info is and ask if it contains what we in the US consider misdemeanor and
felony arrests and convictions or dispositions.
If you have any doubts about the accuracy of the info in this article or what
you've been told by another international background check company, call the
Embassy in Washington for the respective country you are concerned about. Ask to
speak to the legal attaché. Ask them how one obtains REAL criminal history
records from that country. That's what I did, and that's how I started doing
REAL international background checks. That's why I am an expert that other
About the Author
Kit Fremin is the owner and founder of Background Check International. Since
1994 BCI has served clients a varied as: the LA Times, Department of Defense,
Mars, Inc., the UN, the NTSB and Calvary Chapels nationwide. His website is:
http://www.bcint.com and he can
be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-10-29 15:59:29 in Business Articles